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Review: Morningbell at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza


If you were doing the right thing as a Gainesville resident by attending last week’s Free Fridays concert at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza, then aww, shucky ducky did you witness a great show.

Last week it was Morningbell‘s turn to put on a free two-hour concert for a Gainesville crowd of all ages and tye-dye colors.

Photo Courtesy of Suzanna Mars

Friday nights at the plaza are eventful enough if you just take in the audience of jumping kids, hoola-hooping women, old bearded hippies, and lounging and dancing fans alike; and Morningbell has something to offer them all. The band has played the Free Fridays Concert Series every summer for the past few years now, and if there is any band that has a diverse enough catalog to change up the pace during their show while keeping everyone dancing throughout, they are it.

The set kicked off with songs from their newest release, Basso Profundo. Songs like “I Could Use a Little Help” show off their newer, more soulful and groove-oriented sound, but they quickly dug into their back catalog and played a substantial amount of songs from their past records, particularly their second effort, Forgetting to Wake Up.

The set also (wisely) leaned heavily on perhaps their most brilliant record, Sincerely Severely, including the smooth, baby-makin’ title track which makes anyone not holding on to their other half feel hopelessly single at every show.

Performances of original songs like “Marching Off to War” and covers like Prince’s “Purple Rain” (not to mention onstage extended musings on Seal’s songwriting) are testaments to the fact that lead singer/songwriter/guitarist Travis Atria is not only one of Gainesville’s most genius musical minds, but also one of its most gifted and entertaining front men.

The show’s highlight was, as is the case for most outdoor Morningbell shows, the final song of the night, a nearly ten-minute version of “The Desert on the Sea Floor”, off of their third record Through the Belly of the Sea.

As someone who has been to an almost insane number of 45-minute Morningbell shows, I am always struck by how quickly these two-hour sets fly by and how the crowd is always left yelling for one more song.

Continuing to be one of Gainesville’s most inventive and prolific bands, Morningbell are already working on their upcoming sixth album after releasing their latest, Basso Profundo, in limited edition USB format only a few short months ago, and they are headed up the East Coast on tour in October.

We are lucky to have bands of this caliber play our humble little downtown plaza every week of every summer for free! So do the right thing this Friday: go grab yourself a beer and some dinner at the Lunchbox and enjoy music from this week’s Free Fridays Concert band: afro-beat/reggae outfit 3rd Stone.

You won’t regret it and I guarantee you’ll be back for more music next week.

L-R: Chris Hillman, Stacie Atria, Travis Atria, Eric Atria

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